A recent military order by the IDF calls for the deportation of Palestinians residing in the West Bank who are not in possession of West Bank ID cards. Worth noting before I get into this post is that, while typically Palestinians born in Gaza have Gaza ID cards and those born in the West Bank receive West Bank cards, as I mentioned in this post, cards are sometimes issued rather arbitrarily, and may not accurately reflect where a person was born.
Not that it should matter.
When I heard this news, I immediately thought of my friend and co-blogger Mohammad Alsaafin, whose family’s story I wrote about last year. Mohammad’s father was born in Gaza, his mother in the West Bank, where their children were also later born. The whole family possesses British passports, but that doesn’t matter to Israel; his mother, who despite being born in the West Bank possesses a Gaza ID card (thanks to her marriage), is considered an illegal immigrant in her own land.
Thus, I wasn’t surprised when Mohammad wrote about it a few days later. Here are some of his elegant words:
My mother is an illegal infiltrator. She has infiltrated her hometown, where her parents were born and where she was raised. Her activities as an infiltrator are as varied as they are nefarious: She takes my sister to school, with the neighbor’s kids. She cooks and cleans her home. We actually purchased that home so that she would have a base to operate from once she had infiltrated. She goes to the gym (I suspect infiltrators probably do need to stay in shape). She visits her sisters; I can’t say for sure if they assist her illegal activities. I’m sure they provide moral support at least. She helps care for her brother’s young children. You see my uncle might have been an infiltrator. They kicked him out of his homeland too, said he didn’t have the right permit to live there. He actually did, but they didn’t want to renew it. He was kept away from his kids for years. Eventually, he was given permission to infiltrate again, but he died a few months later, before this ruling came into effect. So maybe he became an infiltrator posthumously. I don’t know.
I’m not sure when my mother stopped being a member of the community she grew up in, or a resident of the town where she was raised. Maybe it was when she fell in love with a dangerous inmate. It wasn’t a maximum security prison back in those days-he’d actually been allowed to leave Gaza to study. They met in university: she the future infiltrator, he the future prisoner. They were in love, with each other and with Palestine. And love is what screwed them up.
You can read the rest of his piece, of course. Mohammad’s father’s story was also told today in Canada’s Globe and Mail:
When Abdullah Alsaafin said goodbye to his wife last August, he didn’t know it might be for the last time. The couple and three of their four children live in Ramallah in the West Bank, home of Mrs. Alsaafin’s family, and Mr. Alsaafin was leaving to visit his ailing father in Gaza.
Mr. Alsaafin, a British citizen and working journalist, had travelled frequently back and forth between the territories. On this occasion, however, he was stopped by Israeli authorities who learned he had been born in Gaza. They revoked his press credentials, said his passport was worthless, that he had (Israeli-issued) Gaza identification and was not entitled to live in the West Bank. He was ushered into Gaza and not allowed to leave.
Abdullah Alsaafin left Gaza last year and is currently residing in another country.
Dissident Voice has also covered the story:
But what if both your parents were born in Jaffa, but they ended up being refugees in Gaza? You still get deported to Gaza because you’re not Jewish. What if your mother was a refugee from Nazareth who took refuge in Bethlehem and your father was born in Jerusalem but ended up in a refugee camp in Gaza. You’re still deportable – because you’re not Jewish. There are all kinds of possibilities if you’re not Jewish
I don’t know how anyone can read the facts of this story and not see apartheid. Separate rules for Jews and Arabs (except those Arabs who choose to comply of course; the Druze and the Bedouins, not even considered Arabs by the Zionist government, and even then they’re discriminated against).
To where exactly does one deport a Palestinian? How can a Palestinian illegally live in Palestine? And why should Israel care at all what goes on in the West Bank?
A few years ago, before I became involved in advocacy work, I genuinely believed in the Western solution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine: I thought that eventually, and with some pushing and shoving, two countries would be declared, and with a bit of shaking of course, Israel and Palestine would live together, neighbors at last.
How horribly wrong I was. It becomes more apparent to me every day that the Israeli government has no such intentions. Pushing Palestinians out of what ought to be Palestine (and I’m only referring to 1967 borders!) indicates that Israel has decided that the West Bank will be theirs. And of course they have! How could I have ever thought otherwise?
The more Israel pushes Palestinians out and makes room for more settlers, the more I believe that one, single, bi-national, equal, call-it-whatever-you-want state is the only solution.